Rock Creek to Piute

July 1-4, 1995

Our "spring" ski-backpack trip finally happened, this July 4 weekend.

Ward and I drove up Friday morning via Sonora Pass (Tioga Pass opened late that day). Right at Sonora Pass, we carried our skis up the 12-foot snowbank, and toured to the top of the minor peak about 1400' above the pass to the south. Then we telemarked eastward down a fine bowl to a meadow about three miles east of the pass. Yow! There was enough snow to almost take us back to the road there.

In Mammoth, we met Cathy and Joni, who had been on the East Side all week long doing, you know, girl stuff (skiing and climbing!) We did the car shuttle to North Lake Saturday morning, and shouldered our packs at (almost) the end of the Rock Creek road out of Tom's Place.

We hiked mostly on snow past the various snow-covered lakes along Rock Creek. Skis went on near Long Lake, and we camped at Treasure Lakes at 11200'. By this elevation, deep snow is nearly everywhere. We camped on snow here and the following night, and needed to ski down to a small turquoise crack in the lake to get the only available water.

Saturday, we woke at 5 to take on the steep 13000' pass just to the right of Bear Creek Spire. It was Cathy's idea to hit it early, and we were glad we did. The snow is heavy, and it gets very soft after about noon. There's plenty of fresh avalanche debris to be seen, and in late afternoon, one occasionally hears crashing sounds coming off some ridge or another. The morning corn snow was perfect as we painted the slopes with 'S' shapes all the way down to Lake Italy. In the afternoon, we skied over Italy Pass to the Granite Park area, east of the Sierra Crest.

Monday morning, we were visited by Pat, one of the guys that Joni and Cathy climbed Dana Couloir with earlier in the week. This dude was skiing the same route as us... except all in one day. We popped back over the crest to Royce Lakes, dropped down to Pine Creek Pass, and skied up to near French Lake where we actually found dry spots to set up camp.

Yesterday took us over Steelhead Pass, followed by 3 miles of ski- skating across Humphreys Basin to Piute Pass. Snow was inconsistent past Loch Leven. By the big scree slope half way down, our skis were on our packs.

The others stayed on the trail, but I had to take one last ski run for the season. I made every turn count. Then, running out of snow, I dropped into one last telemark. I stumbled to avoid a gravel patch, fell spectacularly, and let out a spirited yell. Grinning and laughing, I gathered up the wreckage and joined the others for the rest of the hike down to the car.

-Bob Akka, 7/5/95

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